A Brief Guide — Helpful Tips To Clean Antique Ivory

by Kristen White Blogger
Ivory absorbs moisture quickly. You need to be careful not to use cleaners that will damage or discolor the ivory. The color of ivory changes over time to yellow. Some of the best ivory figurines are yellow. This is a sign of age and increases the value of the ivory. Its discoloration would mean reduction of its value. Whenever you use the cleaning methods below, consider cleaning a small portion first to ensure the colour is not affected before cleaning the whole thing. Alternatively, you could take it to a professional experienced in ivory to clean it for you. 

What You Need?
  • Clean woolen cloth
  • Paper towels
  • Mild dish detergent
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • White gloves
  • Cotton swabs
  • Distilled water
  • Soft brush
  • Sponge

Steps to Cleaning Antique Ivory

Note: Test a hidden section to ensure neither the coloring nor the surface will get damaged by the products you use. The best mammoth ivory may react in different ways to the methods we provide.

Always wear white gloves to ensure oil from your hands does not affect the coloring of the ivory. Ensure these gloves are new.

Dusting the ivory may go a long way in cleaning it without damaging it. Use the soft brush to brush away the dirt gently.

If more cleaning is required, moisten a cotton swab or a clean cloth with distilled water, blot on a clean dry cloth and wipe a small part of the piece gently. Dry it immediately. If there was any colour change, discontinue the use.

Use a small amount of mild dishwashing detergent and mix with clean water. Moisten the sponge or soft cloth in the mixture and wring out completely. Wipe the ivory gently and dry immediately. If a stronger cleaner is required, combine equal amounts of ethanol and distilled water and gently wipe a small area with a cloth moistened by the solution. Dry it immediately. If any type of discoloration is present, stop immediately.

When the entire piece is cleaned and dry, buff it using a clean woolen cloth.

Extra Ideas and Tips

  1. If real ivory is examined using a magnifying glass, grain patterns will be observed whereas synthetic ivory will appear as smooth.
  2. Dark lines are natural in ivory and will not be removed.
  3. Never submerse a piece of ivory in water or in any cleaning solution.
  4. Using lemon is not recommended as it will bleach the piece of ivory and lower its value as will drying it out in the sun.
  5. Ensure the cloths used to clean the surface of the ivory have not had contact with abrasive cleaners or fabric softener as this will transfer to the ivory piece.
  6. Do not place ivory in a place it will be exposed to sunlight or else it will bleach it out.
  7. If the piece seems to be drying out, wrap it in a cloth with glycerin and mineral oil and let it set overnight. Wipe off any excess oil in the morning.

Professional cleaners who have worked with good ivory pieces and the best ivory figurines can be found to help clean your ivory pieces if you are unsure about these methods.

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About Kristen White Senior   Blogger

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Joined APSense since, August 19th, 2016, From Chicago, United States.

Created on Jul 15th 2019 07:48. Viewed 277 times.


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